Straight Talk Journal: A conversation with Paul Adom-Otchere

Fri, 7 Feb 2020 Source: Vincent Djokoto

traight Talk is arguably the best current affairs radio talk show on the airwaves right now. Straight Talk airs on Class 91.3 FM, every Thursday from 2pm–3pm, hosted by one of Africa’s foremost feminists – tough-talking journalist – Felicity Naana Nelson.

Last week, Paul Adom-Otchere, a witty, eccentric and controversial personality sat face-to-face with Felicity. Paul, with all his controversies, will certainly go down in the books as one of the most accomplished broadcast journalists of his era.

He has been in the truth-telling business of journalism for over two decades. I am not quite sure if his irresistible rise to the top was carefully orchestrated, or if it was merely an accident of history.

But whatever the case is, he has ascended the hierarchy of the 4th estate in an unorthodox way. I reached out to him, as the producer of Straight Talk, over a week ago to schedule a radio interview. The single motive was to delve deep into his personal life and professional career to unveil the myth behind his character. It’s fair to refer to him as a dandy, given his elegant taste for fashion. Paul, speaking to Felicity, doesn’t dispute this and regards it “as a compliment” in fact.

His father served in the Ghana army, so it’s not quite difficult to deduce where his passion for politics stems from. After all, Ghana, from 1966 – 1981, was effectively dominated by military rule. Living vicariously through his dad, Paul gained deep insight into the inner workings of the government during his childhood at the Burma Villas.

He went on to attend the Presbyterian Boys Secondary School (PRESEC), and, by the accounts of his colleagues, had an appetite for life. Paul attributes his strong sense of individualism to his time at PRESEC. He kept the same boisterous energy at the University of Ghana, where he read law, as an undergraduate student. 2001 was undoubtedly his golden year in the 4th estate of the realm.

He was recognised by the Ghana Journalist Association as the Best News Reporter. And in that same year, he covered the UK elections with the renowned British Broadcasting Corporation.

Paul on Politics.

He recently accused former President, Jerry John Rawlings, of collapsing businesses during the 31ST December 1981 coup and later issued an apology for his remarks. He outright rejected getting cowed into this position and refuses to accept that his views misled the public. Paul, however, credits one of his finest hours of journalism to Jerry John Rawlings. The former President allowed Paul to accompany him, with cameras, as he casted his ballot in 2000.

He certainly is one of the few Ghanaian journalists with close proximity to some of the most influential statesmen.

Paul admits he has a personal relationship with John Mahama. He had the rare privilege of interviewing the immediate former President at his office on two occasions. This was unprecedented.

John Mahama, while Deputy Minister of Communications, took it upon himself to rebrand the image of the National Democratic Congress – which had a revolutionary background and history of taking power through the barrel of the gun – and make it more media friendly. Paul and John developed a strong bond during that phase.

There’s a popular assumption that he is a card-bearing of the New Patriotic Party, active behind the scenes. But he doesn’t quite agree with this, although he is realistic enough to accept that partisanship would certainly influence the views of even the most objective journalist.

Akufo-Addo has recently picked up his nomination forms and all indications suggest that he is most likely going to emerge as the flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party. In Paul’s esteemed opinion, the single most relevant achievement of the Akufo-Addo government has been free senior high school education. He believes “that despite the fact that Akufo-Addo inherited a poor economy, he made a bold decision to deliver free education for all”, regardless of the constraints and criticisms

Paul Adom-Otchere currently serves as a Board Member of the National Communications Authority. He has one foot in public service and the other in media. Let’s see if decides to get into the chess game of the 4th Republic full time.

Columnist: Vincent Djokoto